National firearm amnesty to keep guns out of criminal hands

HAND THEM IN: Chief Inspector Bob Fitzgerald, Constable Michael Charalambous and Superintendent Gary Merryweather show some of the guns seized by Blacktown Police in recent months. Picture: Isabella Lettini

HAND THEM IN: Chief Inspector Bob Fitzgerald, Constable Michael Charalambous and Superintendent Gary Merryweather show some of the guns seized by Blacktown Police in recent months. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Unregistered guns and ammunition can be surrendered to police without fear of prosecution before September 30.

The national firearm amnesty, which started on July 1, is designed to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and other criminals.

On the eve of the amnesty period, Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the government was aiming to reduce an estimated pool of 260,000 illegal guns in response to national security threats.

“This is an opportunity for people to present the guns to authorities, no questions asked and with no penalty,” Mr Keenan said.

“If people don't take that opportunity, the penalties for owning an unregistered or illegal gun in Australia are very severe.

“Our national security environment has deteriorated. Unfortunately we’ve seen through terror attacks in Australia that illegal guns have been used.”

AMNESTY: Any gun can be surrendered to Blacktown Police without fear of prosecution between July 1 to September 30. Picture: Isabella Lettini

AMNESTY: Any gun can be surrendered to Blacktown Police without fear of prosecution between July 1 to September 30. Picture: Isabella Lettini

The federal government initiative is the first national amnesty period since the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.

Blacktown Chief Inspector Bob Fitzgerald said it was important to remember several key safety points before surrendering a firearm at any police station, including:

  • Contact the police station in advance to make an appointment
  • Do not carry loaded firearms in public or into a police station
  • Where possible, remove the bolt and ensure the firearm is safe
  • Place the firearm in a gun bag or wrap in a blanket
  • Any ammunition to be surrendered must be in a separate box or bag

Chief Inspector Fitzgerald also said the amnesty period would not provide protection to anyone using or possessing an unregistered firearm for any reason other than to surrender it.

The amnesty will not protect a person subject to a Firearms or Weapons Prohibition Order, although guns and ammunition can be surrendered anonymously.

People can also apply to legally possess any unregistered firearms they surrender, provided they register it against an appropriate license.

For more information call the Firearms Registry on 1800 803 041.

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